7 ways to stop the flow of emails into your inbox

iStock_000009044151XSmallIf you’re like most people, you do battle with your inbox on a daily basis. And, if you’re like most people, you haven’t won that battle … yet. Instead of tackling the problem from the hundreds or thousands of emails that have already arrived, let’s approach the problem from another angle.

Let’s look at what is coming down the pipe and stop those emails long before they land in your inbox. Here are 7 easy ways to do this today to protect your inbox tomorrow.

  1. Unsubscribe from newsletters you never read or coupons you never use. These are the emails you receive that immediately go into the recycle bin, unopened and unread.
  2. Stop the game of email ping-pong. These are back and forth emails that typically happen when trying to find a time to meet with someone. In these types of situations either use the phone or an online calendar.
  3. Ignore conversations. Have you ever been included in a conversation thread that didn’t apply to you? Likely you were simply an innocent bystander on the cc list, but people keep selecting Reply All. You can stop those emails from coming into your inbox by using the mute or ignore function in your email system. Here are instructions for two of the most popular email clients (Mac Mail users are out of luck for now):
  4. Change your method of communication. Is email the best way to communicate? Would a quick phone call or text do the trick? Not only will it likely stop a long and tedious email thread, it’s a faster path to the answer.
  5. Redirect emails using rules or filters. I love using this feature for the newsletters I do read. By creating a special “Read” folder and then setting up a filter for these emails, they bypass my inbox completely and land in the folder, which I deal with once a week.
  6. Flag emails as spam. Doing this simple thing will stop future junk emails from entering your inbox.
  7. Subscribe to a No Junk Mail policy. We all have colleagues, friends and family who love to share jokes, videos and articles via email. Depending on your perspective these can be a nice break in your day, or an interruption. Politely ask them to take you off the list or to use your personal email address instead. If you’re uncomfortable doing either of these, see Step 6 – the sender will never know!

Taking these 7 steps is like putting an electric fence around your inbox. It will keep out all those unwanted and time-consuming emails that clog your inbox and waste your time.

Now I want to hear from you. What’s your secret weapon for battling your email inbox? What’s the number one strategy you use for keeping your email inbox manageable? Share your comments below and continue the conversation.

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